Precision agriculture and GHG emission mitigation

Agriculture contributes to climate change as its activities account for nearly 14% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Few other sectors hold as much potential to lower their negative impact. Precision agriculture is considered an important instrument to achieve this.

Benefitting from a large pool of modern technologies, precision agriculture can reduce agricultural inputs in site-specific applications. It better targets the spatial and temporal requirements of fields, with the potential to improve resource efficiency and lower GHG emissions. In specific, the application of precision agriculture positively contributes to GHG emission reduction by:

  • enhancing the soils’ ability to store carbon through less tillage and less nitrogen fertilization/more efficient use of fertilizers;
  • improving fuel consumption through less in-field operations with tractors (direct GHG decrease);
  • lowering inputs for agricultural field operations (indirect GHG decrease).

The United Nations Climate Change Conference recognizes the key role of agriculture in climate change mitigation. The two subsidiary bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change work together on addressing issues related to agriculture, taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change. In this context, the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned that emissions from agriculture would increase unless the world adopts more smart farming methods.

Would you like to know more about how precision agriculture can help tackle climate change? Then read this recent paper published in the Sustainability Journal titled ‘Precision Agriculture Technologies Positively Contributing to GHG Emissions Mitigation, Farm Productivity and Economics’. The technologies presented span all agricultural practices, including variable rate sowing/planting, fertilizing, spraying, weeding and irrigation.

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